Pain is a normal response by our bodies to let us know that something is wrong. It is an unpleasant feeling of pricking, stinging, burning or aching. It may be sharp, dull or throbbing. It may come and go or it my hang around constantly. And it can manifest in every part of the body.
Although the sensation of pain is uncomfortable and sometimes irritating, it is useful. Pain tells us that we need to pay attention to what our bodies are trying to tell us, alerting us to injury, illness or some other medical problem that we are not aware of.
So, if you are experiencing pain, it’s time to pay attention.
WHAT IS PAIN?
We all have special nerves which send out signals to our brain and spinal cord when it detects any form of tissue damage. Once this signal has been sent out, the brain has to decide what it needs to do about the pain.
For example, if you touch a thorn, a message will be sent to the spinal cord telling your muscles to contract and pull back from the thorn. This happens so fast that by the time you’ve acted, the message hasn’t even reach the brain yet. However, the pain signal will continue to the brain where your brain will cause you to feel pain. The brain might also release feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine to help curb the unpleasant effects of pain.
How your brain experiences and interprets pain signals, as well as how efficient the channel of communication is between your nerve cells and brain will dictate how you feel pain.
Types of Pain
Pain can come in a variety of forms, from acute pain, to more serious chronic pain conditions resulting from disease and inflammation. For most of us pain is something that comes and goes. Unfortunately, for an estimated 20% of Americans pain with nearly 20 million adults suffering from chronic condition which dramatically influence every aspect of their lives.
Acute pain is what most of us are familiar with. It usually comes on suddenly, has a sharp quality and is cause by something specific. Acute pain can last from as little as a couple of minutes, to a couple of day or sometimes even a few months and usually goes away once the underlying cause is no longer present.
For women, the major causes of acute pain can include:
- Injury and trauma
- Menstrual pain and cramps
- Migraines and headaches
- Labor and childbirth
Unlike acute pain which is the body’s way of telling us that trauma occurred and that we need to pay attention to it, chronic pain doesn’t serve a specific biologic function. Instead, chronic pain is is a disease process in and of itself and not a sign or symptom of a trauma or disease.
There are two types of chronic pain: neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain.
Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain where the body just sends pain signals to your brain without any rhyme or reason. And although it is generally not caused by any type of trauma or disease per se it can be precipitated by things like infections, stress and strains, surgery or trauma.
Neuropathic pain is largely caused by a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Glutamate is responsible for turning on neurons in the glutamenergic system, the major excitatory neuronal pathway through which pain signals are sent and received between the body, spinal cord and brain.
For women, the major causes of neuropathic pain can include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Nerve or spinal cord compression
- Thyroid problems
Inflammatory pain is a type of chronic pain which lasts for more than six months. It is related to neuropathic pain, but unlike neuropathic pain which is limited to neurons, inflammatory pain can generally manifest anywhere in the body.
Inflammatory pain is caused by responses in the immune system to environmental stressors, toxins and infections and is associated with tissue damage and its resulting inflammatory process. When an area is inflamed, it prompts our bodies to promote healing.
For women, the major causes of inflammatory pain can include:
- Interstitial cystitis, cystitis or urinary tract infections
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
HOW CBD CAN HELP PAIN
The most common treatment for pain are drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) and opiates, even though substantial research shows that these are not only ineffective at times but also highly addictive.
No wonder then that cannabidiol (CBD) is gaining popularity as an effective and non-addictive treatment. And the evidence is mounting, showing that CBD can help relieve both acute and chronic symptoms of pain.
CBD for Pain: It Balances the Endocannabinoid System
Our nervous systems are full of cannabinoid receptors which play an important role in the way our bodies are able to inhibit and control pain. When the amounts of certain endocannabinoids in our bodies are out of balance, pain signals and the sensation of pain can increase.
CBD’s powerful analgesic effects are due to its ability to suppress pain processing by activating the CB1 receptors located in our nervous systems. Similarly, CBD stimulates the CB2 receptors which in turn stimulate our bodies natural opioid receptors causing them to release powerful endogenous pain relievers.
CBD for Pain: It Blocks Pain Signals
Scientist have found that CBD acts as a powerful analgesic in two ways. Firstly, CBD also restores the balance of endocannabinoids such as anandamide and FAAH which are thought to play a role in blocking pain signals.
Secondly, CBD has been shown to significantly reduce pain by suppressing α3 GlyRs receptors. Glycine receptors (GlyRs) play an important role in the sensory nervous system’s response to certain harmful or potentially harmful stimuli. And when these receptors are activated, they cause sensations of pain.
CBD for Pain: It Is a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory
When our bodies are damaged through things like trauma, toxins, disease or heat, the affected cells release chemicals called prostaglandins to alert the brain to act. The brain then sends out signals, telling blood vessels to leak fluid and increase blood-flow to the affected area. This in turn an inflammatory response which is characterized by redness, swelling, heat, pain, and loss of tissue function.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are mostly due to its ability to suppress the activity of one type of prostaglandins called cyclooxygenase, in a similar way as NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen. In addition, CBD also has the ability to fight inflammatory oxidative stress by suppressing the immune response which play a role in inflammation.
HOW TO USE CBD FOR PAIN
If you are considering supplementing with CBD to help you deal with pain, it is important to understand that CBD is not a cure-all. CBD works best as part of a comprehensive and wholistic self-care plan that will help you reduce your overall stress levels.
CBD for pain is very personal and dependent on the type and severity of symptoms. The general rule of thumb for CBD dosage is a 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily. If results from this amount are not felt, the serving size can be increased by another 25 mg every 3-4 weeks until you the optimal dosage is found.
Similarly, look for a high-quality CBD product which has been third-party tested for purity and strength to ensure that you are getting an effective and safe product.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with a physician if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should always be sought before before embarking on any new treatment.